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MRO prepares for the second generation ASKAP receiver

Installation of the specialised casing,
developed for the ASKAP Mk II PAF,
was completed in preparation for
transport of the Mk II PAF
to the MRO in the coming week.

19 June 2014

While commissioning activities continue apace with the Boolardy Engineering Test Array (BETA) at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Western Australia, the ASKAP team is also busily preparing the site for ground aperture array tests of the second generation ASKAP receiver.

The development of a second generation (Mk II) phased array feed (PAF) receiver and data processing chain for ASKAP has been underway through a work package known as ASKAP Design Enhancement (ADE).

The ADE program is focused on design enhancement of the ASKAP chequerboard PAF receiver to offer significant benefits in system performance across the ASKAP band.

Tests on a proof-of-concept 40-element PAF late last year confirmed that these improvements through ADE have resulted in a design that will deliver close to a system temperature of 50K across the entire ASKAP frequency band (0.7–1.8 GHz).

More recently, the team successfully demonstrated full end-to-end tests on the prototype Mk II system in the Sydney labs of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science. Final touches are now being made on the prototype Mk II PAF, including the installation of specialised casing developed especially for the ASKAP PAF receivers, while at the MRO, preparation continues on the mechanical, cabling, and power system items necessary for installation and testing of the Mk II PAF, digital receiver, and beamformer onsite.

The tests will include ground based aperture array tests. These are expected to provide essential information for understanding and optimising the new system design, including the most representative system temperature measurement we have to date.

The ADE program focuses on cost-effective technologies with an intent to increase efficiency and digital processing flexibility, while reduce manufacturing complexity, leading to reductions in overall cost and build time. The full-size Mk II PAF is due to be transported to the MRO in the coming month, with deployment on an ASKAP antenna to follow soon after the ground-based tests are complete.

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